Not only does Nick Mangold think Mark Sanchez should be the Jets’ Week 1 starting quarterback, but the Pro Bowl center believes the rest of the Gang Green locker room feels the exact same way.
Mangold voiced his support for the embattled Sanchez yesterday during a promotional appearance at Washington Square Park, saying his close friend gives the Jets a better chance than rookie Geno Smith of being successful right away this fall.
Asked if the rest of the locker room also hopes Sanchez will emerge as the starter, Mangold nodded.
“I believe so,” he told The Post. “I haven’t walked around with a pen and paper and taken a poll, but from the feeling I get, the locker room wants to win. Whoever gives us the best chance to do that, we want out there — and at this point, Mark gives us that best chance.”
Mangold’s backing of Sanchez for the starting job was enhanced, he said, by what the veteran lineman saw during offseason workouts and last week’s minicamp.
“I think Mark is a fantastic quarterback for us, and I think he can do some good things,” Mangold said. “He showed some good flashes in the spring, getting [new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s] system down and commanding the offense the way that he should be. We’ll see how training camp plays out, but either way, the competition will make him a better player.”
Mangold indicated Smith has a ways to go before the second-round pick from West Virginia is ready to be an NFL starter.
“Mark had a little bit better idea of the ideas and of seeing things, which are things Geno is going to have to work his butt off on,” Mangold said.
But Mangold also defended Smith, saying he has seen no evidence of the “diva” tag that was applied after Smith caused a brief stir at the NFL Draft, fired his agents shortly afterward and then hired rap star Jay-Z’s new agency to replace them.
“He can be a good player for us,” Mangold said. “He’s a hard worker, and he’s asking questions. He’s taking the coaching and taking the advice to heart, and I think he’s doing some good things.”
Mangold joked that Smith is on notice from teammates to start bringing Jay-Z to Jets practices, but said the newcomer is well-liked.
“He’s not a diva,” Mangold said. “I don’t see the diva. I don’t get where that came from. Maybe it was somebody with sour grapes who didn’t get to pick him and is spreading some bad stuff out there. But he’s been great for us.”
Mangold also couldn’t help taking a few digs at the arch-rival Patriots in the wake of Aaron Hernandez being involved in the investigation of a shooting death, Rob Gronkowski’s multiple surgeries and New England’s surprise decision to sign Tim Tebow.
“I bet Bill [Belichick] is losing his mind right now,” Mangold said.
Asked if he was healthy going into the summer break, Mangold then poked fun at Gronkowski by saying: “As long as I can avoid back surgery and forearm surgery, I’m good.”